"No country would ever consider it an act of evil to deny a pig human rights. Therefore, if you were to define someone speaking a different tongue, someone of a different color, someone of a different heritage as a pig in human form, any oppression, persecution, or atrocity you might inflict upon them would never be regarded as cruel or inhumane." ― Vladilena Milizé, Memoirs

This is the first volume of 86 -Eighty Six- light novel series.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

A War Without Casualties

The Republic of San Magnolia has long been under attack from the neighboring Giadian Empire's army of unmanned drones known as the Legion. After years of painstaking research, the Republic finally developed autonomous drones of their own, turning the one-sided struggle into a war without casualties-or at least, that's what the government claims.

In truth, there is no such thing as a bloodless war. Beyond the fortified walls protecting the eighty-five Republic territories lies the "nonexistent" Eighty-Sixth Sector. The young men and women of this forsaken land are branded the Eighty-Six and, stripped of their humanity, pilot the "unmanned" weapons into battle... [1]

Summary[edit | edit source]

Coquelicots Blooming Across the Battlefield[edit | edit source]

Inside his cockpit, the voice talked to him - Undertaker; it confirmed the signs of the enemy approaching. The voice informed the command of the battlefield was now transferred to him; the voice, apologizing twice for whatever collusion was felt behind the mic, ended the transmission. Undertaker, with no delay, relayed the message to all the units. The acknowledgment came from his radio; they were as willing as to put their lives in the hand of Undertaker.

The battle commenced at once with no stoppage, but they were facing 210 units of the enemy - rapidly came the sound of his comrades’ dying voices, screams, curses, apologies... he heard the distorted sounds of all his units' last moments. Then, finally reached a transmission just for Undertaker; the voice behind it reminded him of a promise, and the signal was lost in the next moment. That voice was the last of the friendly-unit on the battlefield.

A radio transmission buzzed, but it was the Handler. Before the voice could finish speaking, Undertaker cut off the transmission, it was a meaningless question, and he returned to gaze outside the cockpit. The sunset illuminated the scene with a coquelicot glow casting shadows on a battlefield with nothing but the remains of combat, both of friends and foes. It reminded Undertaker that he was the only one living in the aftermath. He turned his gaze up to the terrifying brilliance of the sunset sky with a single sigh admiring the scene of the crimson of the blooming coquelicots that was as beautiful as sheer madness.

Chapter 1: A Battlefield with Zero Casualties[edit | edit source]

There were no casualties on the battlefield. Said the news commentator with a brilliant smile. It was a routine broadcast every citizen had heard numerous times but never even doubted their legitimacy. Her expression darkened every time she heard it.

She was walking down the main street, Liberte et Egalite, of the Republic of San Magnolia. Even though they had been at war for the past nine years, it was as tranquil and graceful as ever. The streets were brimming with silver-haired folks, just like she - Vladilena Milize. The sixteen-year-old, clad in the Republic military’s dark-blue collared uniform, marched towards the military headquarters - Palace Blancneige.

From the side, a voice greeted her. It was Annette, Lena’s one and only friend who was a technical lieutenant of the military lab division; just in time, she stopped Lena from embarrassing herself by squabbling with some no-good drunkards who were mocking her. Annette informed her the information terminal was on; Lena, at once, made her way towards her command room.

Inside the dark and cold room, she took a seat on the armchair and activated her Para-RAID device; holographic screens flickered and showed the enemy blips on the screen were advancing. As always, she greeted with proper etiquette of a commander Handler however the voice that replied of the Processor, was laced with irony. It was no surprise, the coloured people confined in the Eighty-Sixth Sector were persecuted by the Republic and were now forced to fight a war to restore their civil rights they were stripped of. Lena, shortly after, commenced the battle to drive away the Legion.

The battle had ended, and Lena finally felt the apprehension of battle begin to leave her body. But a bitter taste still filled her mouth. Seven of her Juggernaut Processors had died in exchange for the enemy’s withdrawal. She apologized to the Processor on the other side, but the reply was gratitude sprinkled with cold contempt and hatred.

There were no casualties on the battlefield. The following morning’s news once again spoke of how vast the enemy’s losses were and how light the damage the Republic’s side was. Lena was having breakfast with her mother. Her mother brought up a conversation they had every day - when was she going to quit the army and find a good husband. Her mother was making discriminatory remarks against the Eighty-Six and that Lena didn’t have to associate with them subhumans. Lena sighed. Her mother and all the other Alba citizens had the same preposterous prejudice, and correcting their mindsets was almost insurmountable. Not wanting to converse any further, she left for the military headquarters where she was previously called for.

Lena was standing in front of the division commander’s desk - Commander Karlstahl. He was assigning her to the battle-heavy eastern front’s Spearhead Squadron, an elite unit. It made Lena nervous but she accepted the offer, seeing it as an honour to command an elite unit. Karstahl, however, warned her of the Squadron’s Captain - Undertaker. An usually high number of Handlers who were in charge of Undertaker’s Squadron have put in requests to resign, and some have even committed suicide.

Lena was about to start Para-RAID Resonance with the Spearhead Squadron. She recalled that during her regular Para-RAID medical inspections earlier that afternoon, Lena heard the same story about some Handlers committing suicide after communicating with Undertaker. She didn’t buy the story but had some curiosity. Lena activated her Para-RAID and greeted the Spearhead Squadron. After a short pause, a deep voice responded that sounded of the same age as her. The voice identified himself as Undertaker.

Chapter 2: All Quiet on the Skeletal Front[edit | edit source]

Chapter 3: To Your Gallant Visage at the Underworld's Edge[edit | edit source]

Interlude: The Headless Knight[edit | edit source]

Chapter 4: I Am Legion, for We Are Many[edit | edit source]

Interlude: The Headless Knight II[edit | edit source]

Chapter 5: Fuckin' Glory to the Spearhead Squadron[edit | edit source]

Interlude: The Headless Knight III[edit | edit source]

Chapter 6: Fiat Justitia Ruat Cealum[edit | edit source]

Interlude: The Headless Knight IV[edit | edit source]

Chapter 7: Good-bye[edit | edit source]

Epilogue: Reboot[edit | edit source]

Characters[edit | edit source]

Illustrations[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  1. While the illustrations of later volumes depict the red flowers mentioned as the red spider lily or higanbana, a flower that is closely associated with death and martyrdom in Japan, the novel's descriptions are of the corn poppy. The corn poppy became a popular symbol of the dead during World War 1 after publishing the poem "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian soldier John McCrae. In the prologue "Coquelicots Blooming Across the Battlefield," Asato also references a Chinese legend associated with corn poppy about the death of the Consort Yu, who committed suicide when she and her liege were besieged at the Battle of Gaixia. The legend states that poppies grew where the Consort fell, and the corn poppy became a symbol of loyalty until death. [2]
  2. The order that declares the Colorata as enemies of the Republic and confines them to the concentration camps is Executive Order 6609, the numbers of which are reversed from the real Executive Order 9066 that labeled Japanese-Americans as enemy aliens and allowed them to be confined in numerous camps on the West Coast of the United States during World War 2. [3]
  3. The name Shin gives to the cat is Remarque, the name of the author of the book he is currently reading. Erich Maria Remarque was a veteran of World War 1 and is widely known as the author of the World War 1 historical fiction novel All Quiet on the Western Front, a novel that details the horrors of war of a disillusioned recruit of the Imperial German Army. Chapter 1's title, "All Quiet on the Skeletal Front," is a direct reference to Remarque's novel.
  4. In chapter 2, Raiden muses over the line "Man shall not live on bread alone," which is spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:4. The full line is, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."
  5. Also in Chapter 2, Shin recites a famous line from the New Testament, "Dicit ei Legio nomen mihi est quia multi sumus," which translates to "I am Legion, for we are many." A fitting line for introducing the Legion and foreshadowing for some similar qualities between the robotic "Black Sheep" Legion and the Biblical demons that call themselves Legion. The line returns as the title of Chapter 4. [4]
  6. The title of Chapter 6 is the famed Latin legal phrase "Fiat Justitia Ruat Caleum," or "Let justice be done, though the heavens fall." Relates heavily to Lena's actions within the chapter.
  7. In the fan-translation by Helping, the title of Chapter 7 was "Shalom Chaverim," a Hebrew phrase meaning "Peace friends, till we meet again." The official translation has changed the title to the simpler "Good-bye."
  8. The Republic of San Magnolia has clear similarities to several republics such as France, with the capital being named Liberté et Égalité, which is taken from the French national motto "Liberté, égalité, fraternité." The United States is also alluded to in the form of the aforementioned Executive Order 9066. Asato also clearly indicates Nazi Germany (which itself was the Weimar Republic before Hitler's rise to power) and the Final Solution as a template for the Republic's atrocities. [5] [6]
  9. Magnolia flowers, which are presumably the national flower/symbol of the Republic of San Magnolia, are also the state flower of many states in the American South and is the national flower of North Korea. A possible reference to the historical use of slavery of the South and the authoritarian regime of North Korea. [7]
  10. Asato Asato has stated in interviews that one of her inspirations for the novel was news coverage of drone strikes in the Middle East during the Obama administration. The Handler position can be compared to that of a drone operator. [8]

References[edit | edit source]

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